Senator John Kerry today wrote to the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee urging him to wait for more information on how military bases in Massachusetts would be effected by a potential Air Force reorganization before moving forward on the FY 2013 budget that funds military operations. A reorganization included in the Air Force budget request would cut funding to Hanscom, Barnes, and Otis Air National Guard Bases in Massachusetts.
"Now more than ever, federal funding for defense is critical to the future of the Massachusetts economy," Sen. Kerry wrote in a letter today to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin. "According to a recent University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute report, Massachusetts is the fifth largest recipient of Department of Defense expenditures, at over $14.5 billion, and much of the state's education and innovation leadership is underwritten by an estimated $7.7 billion in federal funding for research and development. In addition, Massachusetts' defense and aerospace industries generate more than 120,000 jobs, fueling local and regional economies."
The full text of today's letter is below:
April 13, 2012
The Honorable Carl Levin
Committee on Armed Services
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Levin:
I am writing to echo the concerns of my colleagues on the House-Senate National Guard and Reserve Caucus that the fiscal year 2013 budget request for the Air Force does not sustain operational readiness in the most cost-effective and responsible manner possible and could unduly hurt the Massachusetts economy. Therefore, I request that you wait for the conclusions of a series of reports on the implications of these changes before making changes to the Air National Guard and Reserve components in the upcoming Senate FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
I understand and agree that the Department of Defense should reorganize, modernize and restructure the military to meet new threats and our economic realities. However, I am concerned that the President's FY 2013 budget request includes disproportionate cuts to the Air National Guard which are unwarranted and potentially dangerous considering the important role the Reserve Component has played in our overseas operations and domestic emergencies for the last decade.
Now more than ever, federal funding for defense is critical to the future of the Massachusetts economy. According to a recent University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute report, Massachusetts is the fifth largest recipient of Department of Defense expenditures, at over $14.5 billion, and much of the state's education and innovation leadership is underwritten by an estimated $7.7 billion in federal funding for research and development. In addition, Massachusetts' defense and aerospace industries generate more than 120,000 jobs, fueling local and regional economies.
Massachusetts is the front line of defense along the East Coast for the entire nation, making Hanscom Air Force Base a critical asset in a strategic location. With an annual budget of more than $5 billion, Hanscom manages approximately 200 programs, gathering and analyzing information on potentially hostile forces, enabling commanders to make quick decisions and rapidly passing them on to their forces. In other words, Hanscom helps direct the muscle of America's air-power arsenal to the right target at the right time.
Furthermore, the USAF is proposing net reductions to the Air National Guard by 5,311 personnel, approximately a five percent reduction rate for each state. However the Massachusetts Air National Guard (MANG) reduction rate is significantly higher to include the loss of 197 positions for a 9 percent decrease. The affected missions include, Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield and Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod.
The single largest reduction in the proposed action is the elimination of the 102nd Air Operations Group at Otis Air National Guard Base. The loss of the 102nd will severely impact mission readiness for the MANG and it will diminish the economic impact that MANG service members have on the communities in which they live and serve. The 102nd provides real time support to their military mission and provides command and control in the event of state emergencies or State Active Duty. Additionally, the 104th Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) at Barnes Air National Guard Base is proposed for elimination. The 104th EOD provides live ordnance support to the Aerospace Control Alert of F-15's protecting our nation's border from Washington D.C. to the Canadian Border. Furthermore, a new EOD building at Barnes was just completed in 2011 for $1.9 million in Military Construction funds from the FY10 budget.
The USAF Reserves, Westover Air Reserve Base stand to lose eight C-5 aircraft which provide a global transport of troops, equipment, and supplies for combat and humanitarian missions. The current16 C-5B aircraft are scheduled to be upgraded to the C-5M models by 2016. However, once upgraded, Westover would only retain eight of the refurbished C-5Ms which will have a significant operational impact on the base.
I strongly believe more data is needed to make a final decision about our future military manpower strategy. Currently, force costing studies by the Institute for Defense Analysis, the Reserve Forces Policy Board, the Department of Defense and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to provisions of the FY 2012 Defense Authorization Conference Report are being developed. I believe these reports will highlight the effectiveness of the Air Guard and Reserve and their ability to maintain low operating expenses.
Further, the Council of Governors has recently made a proposal to make significant changes to the Air Guard and Reserve cuts included in the President Obama's FY 2013 budget request for the Air Force. I hope you will wait for the conclusions of these reports before making any irreversible cuts to the Reserve Component. It is my understanding that Air Force leaders said in a recent hearing that they are reconsidering the current budget plan based on a proposal offered by the Council of Governors.
I hope that you will seriously consider the proposal made by the Council and the other reports on future manpower before implementing the Air Force budget request.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of my request.
John F. Kerry